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Northern Ireland suffer Euro 2020 heartbreak as Duris fires Slovakia to finals at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland 1-2 Slovakia (AET)

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Juraj Kucka celebrates after opening the scores for Slovakia.

Juraj Kucka celebrates after opening the scores for Slovakia.

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

Norther Ireland's Paddy McNair provided the cross for Milan Skriniar to turn the ball into his own goal and force extra-time.

Norther Ireland's Paddy McNair provided the cross for Milan Skriniar to turn the ball into his own goal and force extra-time.

PA

Bailey Peacock-Farrell in action for Northern Ireland (Kevin Scott/Belfast Telegraph)

Bailey Peacock-Farrell in action for Northern Ireland (Kevin Scott/Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (left) and Slovakia's Milan Skriniar battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Finals match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 12, 2020. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (left) and Slovakia's Milan Skriniar battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Finals match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 12, 2020. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Northern Ireland’s score during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Ireland’s score during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland's  Kyle Lafferty   during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

Northern Ireland's Gavin Whyte (left) and Slovakia's Samuel Mraz battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Finals match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 12, 2020. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Northern Ireland's Gavin Whyte (left) and Slovakia's Samuel Mraz battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Finals match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 12, 2020. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

PA

Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky (left) and Northern Ireland's Steven Davis battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Finals match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 12, 2020. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky (left) and Northern Ireland's Steven Davis battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Finals match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 12, 2020. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

PA

Slovakia's Juraj Kucka (front left) celebrates opening the scoring at Windsor Park.

Slovakia's Juraj Kucka (front left) celebrates opening the scoring at Windsor Park.

PA

Northern Ireland’s Steven Davis during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Ireland’s Steven Davis during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland’s Steven Davis during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Ireland’s Steven Davis during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Slovakia's Juraj Kucka celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game  during the UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Finals match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 12, 2020. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Slovakia's Juraj Kucka celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Finals match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 12, 2020. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Northern Ireland or Slovakia will be going to Euro 2020.

Northern Ireland or Slovakia will be going to Euro 2020.

William Cherry/Presseye

Conor Washington starts for Northern Ireland.

Conor Washington starts for Northern Ireland.

William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland’s Kyle Lafferty pays tribute to his sister Sonia Amanda Lafferty, who passed away last week.

Northern Ireland’s Kyle Lafferty pays tribute to his sister Sonia Amanda Lafferty, who passed away last week.

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn and Stuart Dallas as the team arrives at the stadium ahead of Thursday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Play-Off Final against Slovakia at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.   Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn and Stuart Dallas as the team arrives at the stadium ahead of Thursday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Play-Off Final against Slovakia at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland will face Slovakia at Windsor Park.

Northern Ireland will face Slovakia at Windsor Park.

PA

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Juraj Kucka celebrates after opening the scores for Slovakia.

Northern Ireland will be kicking themselves.

It should have been remember, remember the 12th of November for the boys in green against an average Slovakian side. A place at the European Championship finals was there was for the taking.

Instead, Friday the 13th came one day early and the boys in green ended with yet another play-off nightmare.

Three years ago this week Switzerland left them heartbroken as they attempted to reach the World Cup in Russia, now it was the turn of Slovakia to end their Euro misison.

But Northern Ireland, similar to many of the MLAs at Stormont this week, simply weren’t decisive enough. They lacked a killer edge and of course pressed the self-destruct button as they have done on so many occasions.

Northern Ireland managed bravely and boldly to take the game into extra time after the Slovaks had taken a first-half lead, but then conceded a soft second goal, through substitute Michal Duris, and their hopes and dreams evaporated.

Slovakia advance to the Euro finals next summer and Northern Ireland must be content to watch on television.

Ian Baraclough made only one change from the side that started in the penalty shoot-out victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina with striker Conor Washington replacing injured midfielder Corry Evans while the goalscorer in Sarajevo, Niall McGinn kept his place on the right wing.

Slovakia, who overcame the Republic of Ireland via there own spot kicks in Bratislava in the semi-final last month, and were under new management in interim boss Stefan Tarkovic, packed the midfield and started the game without a recognised striker. FC Koln’s attacking midfielder Ondrej Duda was tasked with leading the line.

In every match Northern Ireland have played under Baraclough they’ve gone behind and last night there was an immediate hunger and desire to make sure this didn’t occur on such a big night.

Paddy McNair was particularly impressive in the opening period, Stuart Dallas made his presence felt in attack, Davis was attempting to pull the strings from midfield and Washington was a livewire.

But Northern Ireland were soon left licking their own self-inflicted wounds after George Saville’s stray header on 17 minutes.

Saville, attempting to nod the ball back to Jonny Evans just inside their own half, allowed Juraj Kucka to run on to the loose ball, Evans couldn’t catch up having been taken by surprise, and Kucka despatched a superbly placed low shot beyond Bailey Peacock Farrell’s outstretched hand.

Northern Ireland were shellshocked, the 1,060 fans inside Windsor Park silenced.

Northern Ireland fans in Windsor Park for Slovakia game [Photos] Close

Northern Ireland fans  during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans at the game. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans at the game. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans at the game. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans at the game. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans at the game. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans at the game. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Northern Ireland’s fans during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Ireland’s fans during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans  during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fan sings during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fan sings during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fan sings during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fan sings during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans celebrate after they score to make it 1-1. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans celebrate after they score to make it 1-1. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans celebrate after they score to make it 1-1. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans celebrate after they score to make it 1-1. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans celebrate after they score to make it 1-1. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans celebrate after they score to make it 1-1. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Northern Ireland fans celebrate after they score to make it 1-1. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans celebrate after they score to make it 1-1. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans  during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Northern Ireland’s during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Ireland’s during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans  during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans  during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans  during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans  during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans  during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans  during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. 
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/10/2020: Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS  BELFAST 12/11/2020
Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans  during this evenings game  at  the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 Play Off Final Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020
National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
12/11/2020
Northern Ireland  fans supporting Northern Ireland  against  Slovakia during Thursday  night's UEFA Euro 2020  Play-off Final  at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast.
Mandatory Credit PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020 National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland fans supporting Northern Ireland against Slovakia during Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast. Mandatory Credit PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020
National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
12/11/2020
Northern Ireland  fans supporting Northern Ireland  against  Slovakia during Thursday  night's UEFA Euro 2020  Play-off Final  at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast.
Mandatory Credit PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020 National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland fans supporting Northern Ireland against Slovakia during Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast. Mandatory Credit PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020
National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
12/11/2020
Northern Ireland  fans supporting Northern Ireland  against  Slovakia during Thursday  night's UEFA Euro 2020  Play-off Final  at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast.
Mandatory Credit PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020 National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland fans supporting Northern Ireland against Slovakia during Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast. Mandatory Credit PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020
National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
12/11/2020
Northern Ireland  fans supporting Northern Ireland  against  Slovakia during Thursday  night's UEFA Euro 2020  Play-off Final  at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast.
Mandatory Credit PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020 National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland fans supporting Northern Ireland against Slovakia during Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast. Mandatory Credit PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020
National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
12/11/2020
Northern Ireland  fans supporting Northern Ireland  against  Slovakia during Thursday  night's UEFA Euro 2020  Play-off Final  at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast.
Mandatory Credit PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -12th November 2020 National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 12/11/2020 Northern Ireland fans supporting Northern Ireland against Slovakia during Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Play-off Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park,Belfast. Mandatory Credit PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Trevor Anderson with his grandson Jack Thompson from Belfast 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Trevor Anderson with his grandson Jack Thompson from Belfast Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Gareth Bell and his son Caleb from Antrim 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Gareth Bell and his son Caleb from Antrim Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020

European Championship 2020.  Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Gareth Bell and his son Caleb from Antrim 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th November 2020 European Championship 2020. Playoff for Final Tournament - Northern Ireland Vs Slovakia at The National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Gareth Bell and his son Caleb from Antrim Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Simon and Anne Duckett from Belfast.
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Simon and Anne Duckett from Belfast. Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Simon and Anne Duckett from Belfast.
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Simon and Anne Duckett from Belfast. Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Danny and Stephen Kennedy from Bessbrook 
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Danny and Stephen Kennedy from Bessbrook Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Kris Malone and Lee Montgomery from Newtownabbey
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Kris Malone and Lee Montgomery from Newtownabbey Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Keith Boyd ,Bobby Burns and Sarah Winslow
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Keith Boyd ,Bobby Burns and Sarah Winslow Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Gordon and Cameron McEwan 
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Gordon and Cameron McEwan Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Angela McKibbin from Belfast
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Angela McKibbin from Belfast Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Raymond Lowry and Deborah Maxwell from Castlederg
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Raymond Lowry and Deborah Maxwell from Castlederg Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
William Dunne and Kyle Quinn from Armagh 
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia William Dunne and Kyle Quinn from Armagh Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Lord Mayor Frank McCoubrey
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Lord Mayor Frank McCoubrey Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Brian White from Newtownabbey
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Brian White from Newtownabbey Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Andy Smith and Adrian Black from Cookstown 
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Andy Smith and Adrian Black from Cookstown Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Stephen and Jay Gamble
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Stephen and Jay Gamble Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020
Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia
Rodney Cardwell from Lurgan and David Stewart from Belfast.
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

12th November 2020 Northern Ireland fans pictured as they arrive at the National Stadium in Belfast ahead of tonights game against Slovakia Rodney Cardwell from Lurgan and David Stewart from Belfast. Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

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Northern Ireland fans during the European Championship qualifying play-off against Slovakia at the National stadium in Belfast. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

It was a sucker punch to the gut but the men in green, having great experience of playing catch-up recently, quickly regrouped and McGinn floated a cross that nearly drifted in at the back post while McNair’s corner just evaded Josh Magennis.

There was great concern on 27 minutes when Stuart Dallas, winning his 50th international cap last night, was involved in a crunching challenge with Tomas Hubocan on the half way and immediately fell to the deck clutching his arm. In the largely empty stadium, it sounded horrific with the Cookstown man in obvious pain and discomfort.

After receiving treatment, with five members of the Northern Ireland backroom staff around him, he showed tremendous warrior spirit to continue but for a short period kept clutching his arm when not in possession.

Dallas played through the pain barrier, even taking long throw-ins, Magennis was winning every header in the air and they were getting down the channels. But it was to no avail. They simply couldn’t penetrate the Slovakia defence.

Marek Hamsik, at 33, was still displaying his enviable skills, coming deep to frustrate Northern Ireland and pushing Slovakia forward while Peter Pekarik and Albert Rusnak were combining well on the right.

Yet, just before half time, with Northern Ireland pushing the Slovakia defence back, and putting immense pressure on them, they gave the ball away 25 yards from their goal, however McGinn, who had showed plenty of heart and desire, couldn’t capitalise.

Northern Ireland played with vigour at the start of second half, decamping in the Slovakia half and sending in dangerous crosses but no-one in a green shirt could take full advantage.

Saville, having scored a couple of goals for Middlesbrough recently, was constantly trying to get into decent areas to pull the trigger, however he shot wide and then, on 53 minutes, Washington had the best chance of the night for Northern Ireland but hit the ball straight at Rodak after being played in by the lively McGinn.

Northern Ireland, though, were largely lacking ideas and there was little creativity.

Both teams made double substitutions on 65 minutes with Jordan Thompson and Gavin Whyte replacing Saville and Washington while Michal Duris and Patrik Hrosovsky came on for Slovakia at the expense of Robert Mak and Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka.

Dallas and McNair were trying to inject some life back into Northern Ireland with their ventures down the right flank. Slovakia were ready for them and soaked up the danger.

Baraclough, with the clock ticking on Northern Ireland’s elimination, brought on strikers Kyle Lafferty and Liam Boyce, withdrawing McGinn and Magennis.

Lafferty and Boyce were straight into the thick of the action, winning headers, displaying nice touches and it was sustained pressure.

After numerous blocks and near misses, and with just three minutes remaining Northern Ireland had their equaliser after McNair surged into the box following lovely interplay with Whyte and drilled a low cross back from the byline, which Inter’s Milan Skriniar could only direct into his own net

It was far from pretty and rather unfortunate on Skriniar, who had looked so composed in the Slovakian defence throughout, but Northern Ireland deserved their equaliser and had done enough to take the game into extra time.

Seconds later though, Lafferty, four years after his last goal for Northern Ireland, thought he’d scored the winner without the need for extra time, but his fierce drive from just outside the box, struck the post.

Following the short break, where the teams huddled in front of their technical areas, it was Northern Ireland who started with more determination, however their biggest problem was keeping players on the pitch.

Cathcart took a knock and Sunderland’s Tom Flanagan had to come on and then Baraclough, with two minutes to go in the first half of extra time, was forced into his sixth substitution of the night with McNair hobbling off and being replaced by Shane Ferguson.

Slovakia brought off their talisman Hamsik during the extra time interval.

Despite the changes, Northern Ireland looked comfortable but five minutes into the second half of extra time, disaster struck for the men in green.

Close

Northern Ireland’s Jonny Evans during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Ireland’s Jonny Evans during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland’s Jonny Evans during the Euro Qualifier in Belfast on November 12th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A hopeful ball was played in, it struck the backside of Evans and substitute Duris picked it up, ran towards goal, managed to evade Evans and struck a shot which squeezed in at Peacock-Farrell’s near post.

Evans was furious, he couldn’t believe the ball had sneaked in and immediately held his head in his hands.

Slovakia naturally slowed the match down, much to the frustration of Northern Ireland.

With time counting down, Evans pushed himself forward, Northern Ireland bombarded Rodak’s goal but they couldn’t find their second equaliser of the night, which would have taken the game to penalties.

Slovakia’s bench raced to celebrate in their own box at the final whistle while the Northern Ireland’s players dropped to the pitch in utter deflation.

For Evans, Davis and Dallas, it was pure agony. This could be the end of an era.

Slovakia can now look forward to Dublin and Bilbao next summer. Northern Ireland can only think of what might have been.

Here's the game as it happened:

Belfast Telegraph


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